CKB on Compensatory Boasting

CKB on Compensatory Boasting September 16, 2017

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It is the most natural thing in the world to want
something to be proud of, something to glory in. You can see this quite
clearly the whole string of compensations which modern life has to provide

for people. In modern life, because that is what we know best and
also because much modern medicine today means the giving to people
of drugs and stimulants for which they clamor, I say you can see it in the
artificial compensations of modern life. That is because of course the average
person has nothing very much to boast about in himself. Most of us are
not noteworthy for beauty or for brains or for strength or for commercial or
administrative power. Therefore, because a man is not a good footballer he
goes to see Darlington play and glories in his team’s successes (that’s what I
mean by compensation). Because he is not beautiful himself he buys good
or striking clothes that he may be proud of. When a person has no brains
(by a strange sort of inversion) he is proud of his ignorance. Or perhaps he
is proud of his school, or a school friend of whom he is proud. What lies
behind all these compensations is this: we want to glory in ourselves, and if
we can’t do it directly we will find some way around it by compensation. If
I can’t glory in my own football success, then I will glory in my team, and it
is my team. Of course, if it stopped there, it wouldn’t be so bad. But it goes
further. A good deal of boasting in your country comes down to the same
thing; one’s country becomes a great “I” and one gets a personal gratification
out of it.— C.K. Barrett


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